What We Carry: SD9VE

This one is going to ruffle a few feathers, especially among those peacocking on Instagram and YouTube as “an expert.” That’s because the SDVE from Smith & Wesson is not, in their minds, a top choice for an everyday carry. Just ask them.

And, as self-proclaimed internet experts, they will be sure to tell you why it’s a horrible choice. You’re certainly free to take their word for it, because, you know, they’re “experts.”

But, and we’re just throwing this out there, maybe, just maybe you want some insight from people who actually know the SDVE real well, not to mention carried it. Like, us.

Back in May of 2016 we published a blog post entitled SDVE: S&W’s Hidden Gem in which we outlined all the reasons that the SDVE is actually quite a good gun.

And it is. It’s well built, compact, accurate and has 16+1 capacity. It’s got everything you’d look for in a carry gun.

But for one thing, maybe. A decent trigger. And that’s where we come in.

The SDVE does have a long, heavy trigger. It was designed that way. The story, as we know it, is that the engineers were looking for a transitional firearm that bridged the gap between the heavy double-action trigger pull of a duty revolver to something less long and less heavy without jumping straight to what today is the more common striker-fired trigger pull we’ve come to expect.

Why they chose this path it’s hard to say. Assuming the story is true, it gives credence to the notion of not letting engineers dictate the performance of a firearm. Well, certainly not without well considered direction from actual shooters.

Regardless, Smith & Wesson gave us the SDVE. And we (Apex) came up with a much needed improvement.

The SDVE we’re looking at today is Scott’s. He knows a thing or two about firearms and not just because he plays an expert on the internet, but because he actually is an expert.

His SDVE, which has been in his everyday carry rotation, is outfitted with the Apex Action Enhancement Kit. This kit is a pairing of two previously standalone products. The polymer Action Enhancement Trigger and the Spring Kit for the SDVE.

The Apex trigger replaces the factory hinged trigger which, and let’s be honest, nobody really loves, with a unibody design with center-mounted pivoting safety. The Apex trigger by itself reduces pre-travel by approximately 20% and over-travel by 10%, when compared to the factory trigger.

Our Spring Kit reduces trigger pull weight by approximately 2.0 lbs. from factory while smoothing the trigger stroke and improving reset. It is made up of a trigger return spring, a striker block spring, a striker spring and a light sear spring.

Though lighter, the sear spring will only really come into play in those SDVE models that have overly heavy trigger pull weights, like those sold in New York or Massachusetts.

Combining these two is where you’ll find dramatic improvement in the SDVE, and that’s why we finally decided to make life easy for customers and just put these together into one kit. The video below gives you a quick overview of the kit.

Just like with his J-Frame, Scott again chose a Reinforced IWB leather holster from TT GunLeather to carry the SDVE. While there isn’t a selection option specifically for the SDVE, Scott found that the holster for the M&P 45 Compact works great. Plus, he likes that ‘old man’ look a leather holster gives you.

Other than that there are no upgrades to this SDVE. No sights, no lasers or lights. And certainly no stippling or Cerakote. Like, who would ever do that, right? Not even a threaded barrel…

So, if you are wondering, does the SDVE make for a good carry gun? Yes, it does. It may not be your first choice, but it can be a great secondary option, house or truck gun. It’s durable and it performs. Especially if you upgrade that trigger with a little help from Apex.

The SDVE? Yeah, it actually is ‘What We Carry.’


  1. Alec Andrus - July 23, 2019 @ 10:25 am

    I upgraded my SDVE with an Apex trigger kit and the result was outstanding. I changed the way the weapon “feels” as a good trigger will do. Apex kits have improved several of my go to pistols.

  2. Peter - July 23, 2019 @ 10:25 am

    Totally agreed with this article!
    I upgraded my sd9ve years ago and it does feel huge difference. Loving it more!
    Thanks to Apex Tactical for making me more satisfied with my sd9ve.

  3. Randy Forester - July 23, 2019 @ 10:45 am

    I have a SDVE I carry on occasion. It is a very good pistol but I will be ordering this trigger set up. Dropping two pounds of trigger pull will make my wife happy too when she shoots it.

  4. Dan Hastings - July 23, 2019 @ 11:43 am

    I’ve added the springs & trigger kit to my SD 40 & it makes it feel like a much higher price point pistol.
    Reliability is awesome, it absolutely is something you can carry & it has not had a hiccup since day 1.

  5. Clarence (Doc) Barron - July 23, 2019 @ 12:00 pm

    I have been carrying a Smith&Wesson SD40VE for over 5 years. I have never done anything to my sd40ve. My SD is a much better pistol than my MP 9 that i just bought. The MP 9 is a pos. I will be buying a SD9VE to replace the MP9…

  6. Eduardo Rodriguez - July 23, 2019 @ 12:09 pm

    I had my SD40 for 4 years before buying the Apex trigger kit and I regret not doing it sooner! Makes the pistol feel and shoot amazing.

  7. Steve Castro - July 23, 2019 @ 12:41 pm

    Accurate, reliable, shoots everything to feed it. SD9ve is a great gun for the money and the Apex trigger and spring kit improves the 1 not so great part of the gun. A must have on that firearm.

  8. Isaac - July 23, 2019 @ 4:18 pm

    With the AET in my SD40VE, not only have I carried it daily for 4 years, I have even used it in competition.

  9. robert kearney - July 23, 2019 @ 5:59 pm

    i put a apex trigger on a older s&w sd 40 and have been carrieing it now for 2 years . i just put your trigger and spring in a s&w 9ve . wow!!! i love the way this makes this gun preform all i can say is keep up the great work

  10. Mike - July 23, 2019 @ 6:08 pm

    I love mine. I bought your trigger/action upgrade spring kit along with a Crimson Trace Laser sight and the Talon Grip. It’s a great pistol, properly weighted with a full mag, slide absorbs the recoil nicely. It did suck trying to find an adequate holster for it with the laser as well as the spare mag, but of all places, Wal-Mart had one for less than $20 with my name on it (Uncle Mikes). Looking at Ceracoating the slide soon.

  11. Bob Torbett - July 23, 2019 @ 9:11 pm

    I love my SD9VE. I’ve carried it for about 7 years and put a few thousand rounds thru it with no problems. I purchased an APEX kit a couple of years ago, but could not get the trigger to fit properly. I’m sure it’s something I did. I did install the rest of the kit and I guess I’ll just have to get another trigger kit and try again. The pistol has performed flawlessly right out of the box.

  12. Aaron Kelso - July 24, 2019 @ 4:35 am

    Couldn’t agree more with this article. I have a SD9VE and it was my EDC for almost 3 years straight. Now it is in rotation but still one of my favorite pistols to shoot. It has the Apex trigger and spring kit(first mods I did) and Trijicon night sights and yes most M&P holsters fit the gun perfect! Not the best, but it has never failed me and is just as accurate or better than any other pistol I own(including my P365 I carry now)

  13. paul - July 24, 2019 @ 7:44 am

    Call customer service and they can assist you with troubleshooting the trigger install. The heavy trigger pull in some guns means removing a bit more of the over-travel to compensate for the flex in the trigger bar at the higher weights.

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